Howard helps Phillies knock off Braves
PHILADELPHIA -- With all the moves that happened in Philadelphia on Friday, it might've been hard to remember that the team still had a game to play. But from the way the Phillies played, the trades didn't seem to affect them.
The Philadelphia offense erupted for nine runs and 11 hits in their 9-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The offense started early with the first five Phillies to come to the plate all reaching base and four of them scoring. From there the offense didn't relent. The win was the Phillies' 11th in 13 games since the All-Star break, continuing the hot streak that has accounted for more than a quarter of the team's wins this season.
"I couldn't be happier," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "Everybody's playing pretty darn well."
The loss was Atlanta's fifth in a row. Though the offense showed some spark, the Braves struggled to capitalize on the opportunities they made for themselves. The Braves recorded double-digit hits for the second-straight night, but also for the second-straight night they stranded a high percentage of those hitters, leaving seven on base and going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Who needs Hamels? Called up to start in place of traded ace Cole Hamels, David Buchanan didn't disappoint in his return from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 26-year-old tossed 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball, striking out four and walking none. He also got the opportunity to show off his talents with the bat, driving in a run in the fifth inning with a single and nearly beating out throws from shortstop twice on grounders. With the win, Buchanan improved his record to 2-5 and dropped his ERA nearly a full point to 6.44.
"When Cole got traded there was a spot that opened up and they called me up to fill it today," Buchanan said. "Every time I go out there I want to give the impression that I'm good enough to be here and I have the confidence enough to take that role. As long as the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to try to take advantage of it the best I can." More >
Maybe he wasn't ready: There was reason to wonder why Braves starting pitcher Williams Perez needed to make three rehab starts before concluding a month-long stint on the disabled list with a bruised left foot. But it didn't take long for him to show he might not have been ready. The Braves' southpaw surrendered four hits, including Ryan Howard's three-run double, and issued a walk before recording his first out. His ERA as a starter rose from 2.31 to 3.71 as he was charged with nine earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
"I felt rusty," Perez said with assistant coach Horacio Ramirez serving as an interpreter. "I was able to battle through it and make adjustments from the second inning on. But that last inning kind of fell apart on me." More >
Dom-inant: Prior to this series with Atlanta, Domonic Brown's bat, which had been cold all year, woke up this week, however, and he found his power stroke. Brown hit his first home run of the season on Thursday night off of Shelby Miller then rocketed a ball into the Phillies' bullpen in the fifth inning on Friday, scoring Howard from first. Brown's batting average has improved from .191 on July 19 to .252 over his last nine games.
"He seems to have been more of a defensive hitter and we've been trying to get him to get more of a head out. He seems to be doing that more lately. He's hit the ball out in front of the plate a little bit more instead of worrying about the outer half," Mackanin said of Brown's swings.
Freeman's milestone: Freddie Freeman's opposite-field two-run shot off Buchanan in the eighth inning was the 100th homer of his career. The Braves' first baseman hit the first home run of his career on Sept. 21, 2010. It came against former Phillies hurler Roy Halladay in the same ballpark.
Freeman has recorded five hits, including a pair of homers, in 27 at-bats since spending five weeks on the disabled list with a sprained right wrist.
"It's been a grind since I came back and obviously, I'm still grinding up there," Freeman said. "It was nice to hit a ball to left field hard. Hopefully, I can build off of that."
"I think everybody was confused. I don't know if it was a slow-motion play or what it was." -- Mackanin, on the bizarre rundown where instead of trying to get back to second base, Cesar Hernandez stared A.J. Pierzynski down until the catcher made a decision.
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The Braves have scored three runs or less in 15 of their past 18 games.
The Braves concluded Philadelphia's five-run fifth when a replay review overturned an infield single that had been awarded to Brown. The replay showed Matt Marksberry received Freeman's feed from the outfield grass and tagged Brown's left thigh as they were both approaching the first base bag.
Braves: Matt Wisler will take the mound for Atlanta when this four-game series resumes on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Wisler has produced a 3.43 ERA through his first seven career starts.
Phillies: Rookie Aaron Nola will take the ball for the Phillies. He is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA over his first two career starts and has excelled in preventing runners from reaching base, holding a miniscule 0.95 WHIP to start his career.
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